Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ash Gourd and Chickpeas with Alkali ( কোমোৰাৰ আগ আৰু বুটৰ সৈতে খাৰ)

Life has been hectic past few months! I had a very busy trip to India; before and after that I lived in different cities for different projects. Among all that, I have not been able to find time as well as inspiration to cook much at the comfort of my own kitchen!

Anyway, you guys know that I love authentic Assamese cuisine. One of the major reasons for that is my mother’s awesome cooking! Her style of cooking is simple and very fast and her dishes are never boring no matter how many times she prepares them! When I went to India in 2013 for vacation, I did not really have much chance to gorge on mom-made awesome food, but for this trip I made sure that I don’t miss any lunch and dinners at home among my cozy little family :-) There have been pigeon meat, duck curries, pork fries, different type of freshwater fish and lot of pitha-laru (delicious sweet snacks loved by every Assamese)! I have every intention of sharing all these recipes but let's first start with something green and healthy :-) This sabji (curry) is one of the many tricks my mom uses to jazz up an otherwise boring vegetarian meal! It's definitely different than the vegetarian recipes that I can prepare here in USA.

Ingredients: Young/budding leaves and vines of Ash Gourd tree (not the best description so please refer to the picture below :-)), Chickpeas (white ones known as Kabuli Boot or Brown ones known as Desi Boot in Assam), Ginger Paste, Pasfuron, Dry Red Chilies, Khar (alkali solution. you can also substitute it for Baking Powder), Salt, fresh Green Chilies. Turmeric powder is NOT needed.

1. Soak the chickpeas in water for at least 2-3 hrs.
2. We need to clean up the leaves and the stems. First peel away the outer layer (which is also covered with short coarse hair) of the stems and chop them into medium or to your preferred size.
3. Heat oil in a pan (I use mustard oil). Add the pasfuron and dry chilies.
4. Add the vegetables and chickpeas. Keep stirring.
5. Add ginger paste, you may add a clove of garlic if you want.
6. Add the khar/baking powder and salt.
7. When you can start seeing the vegetables have started to melt add the green chilies. This gives a fresh aroma to the sabji. Keep stirring.
8. This sabji does not really need a lot of time to cook. Add a little bit of water and bring to heavy-thick gravy like consistency.
9. Serve with rice, roti, bread or with whatever you wish for.
10. The other side-dish you see in the plate (at the bottom) consists of the vegetables seen on the picture at the side :-) (Very easy to prepare; add the vegetables in a heated oil and keep frying untill it melts with little ginger-garlic paste, that's it.)

In a proper Assamese meal this khar sabji serves as a side dish. :-) I am yet to figure out a grocery store here in USA where I can find these type of green stems so I don't really know when next I am going to taste this sabji again :-) I can only hope :-( 

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